PADUA, THE CITY OF THE FAMOUS SAINT

With its rich artistic heritage, this Veneto city is famous for the art works of Giotto. The province of Padua is characterised by its varied nature, thermal waters and towns with a wealth of history and monuments.

History

Legend has it that Padua was founded in around 1183 BC by Antenore, the mythical hero who fled from Troy. According to historians, the area was already inhabited in the 10th century BC, while in the Roman era it became one of the prosperous towns in the Empire. After Barbarian raids and a period of decline, it recovered in around 1000, becoming a free commune. In 1222 the prestigious University was founded, renowned as the second oldest university in Italy, after Bologna, frequented by famous figures such as Galileo and Copernicus. In the 15th century the city fell under the dominion of the Republic of Venice and was linked to the destiny of the republic until it came under Austrian rule. With the third war of independence Padua became part of the Kingdom of Italy and participated in the two world wars, being subjected to heavy bombing. After the Second World War the city experienced rapid development and has become one of the main business centres in northern Italy.

The city and its monuments

In addition to being known for the artistic genius of Giotto, Padua is the city of Sant’Antonio and had a remarkable artistic heritage. This includes the Scrovegni Chapel, inside which one can admire a beautiful cycle of frescoes representing the most complete and best-conserved work by Giotto, the Palazzo della Ragione, the largest medieval secular building in Italy, the Basilica of Sant’Antonio, which contains masterpieces of exceptional artistic value and the Duomo with the adjoining 12th century baptistery, to give just a few examples. The city can also boast some of the largest and most attractive squares in Europe, such as Prato della Valle, Piazze della Frutta, Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza dei Signori. The old university instead contains the Anatomy Theatre, Galileo Galilei’s desk, the great hall and an old courtyard with the famous botanical gardens founded in 1545, recalling the scientific traditions of “erudite” Padua.

The geographical area

In the province there is a wide range of facilities for tourists and many places of interest. The Veneto villas in Este, Montagnana, Cittadella, Monselice and Piove di Sacco should not be missed, while the area which stretches out between the Euganei hills and the River Adige contains the most famous thermal basin in Europe, with the spas of Abano and Montegrotto. With their more than 150 hotels, treatment centres and 200 covered and open-air swimming pools, they are ideal for those wishing to take advantage of thermal treatments and enjoy a relaxing break. From the Euganei hills, heading towards the south, one reaches the plain, where there are extensive areas of countryside, villas of inestimable architectural value and nature sanctuaries. Here we find hectares of lagoon, with canals and stretches of water alternating with valleys offering excellent fishing opportunities and areas of reclaimed land. Among the various sporting activities available one can take advantage of walks or bicycle rides along the footpaths in the hills, where there is also the opportunity for climbing enthusiasts to train at the natural rock climbing centre at Rocca Pendice.